LEATHERFACE: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3
Director: Jeff Burr
Year of release: 1990
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 81-85 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: Both
Tagline: "He puts the teeth in terror", "The most controversial horror film ever is finally here", "The terror begins the second it starts" and "The saw is family".
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: Ignoring the events of the second film here we find Leatherface alive and well and living with a new cannibalistic family of redneck killers somewhere within the backwoods of Texas. Our victims this time around are a bickering young couple who are driving across a portion of America to deliver a car to Florida. After stopping at a gas station run by our mask fiends new brethren the couple are tricked into taking an alternative route which puts them on the lonely back roads away from civilsation. Here they are accosted by Leatherface and his cronies and although they manage to get away in their panic they collide with another vehicle. With both cars damaged the couple and the other driver find themselves vulnerable and alone at night time in the desolate countryside. Soon enough Leatherface turns up again intent on hunting down his quarry which leads us to an old farmhouse where the rest of his clan reside. A before they are more than willing to turn any captured travelers into a tasty meal.
Good points: Although it isn't good that the film completely ignores number two it does to its credit add in and include a lot of little touches that help connect it with what has gone before in the series. For example an armadillo gets hit by a car early on, we learn that one of the new Sawyer clan used to work in a slaughter house and Leatherface wears a leg brace presumably due to the injury he sustained at the end of the first film. The actress who played Stretch in number two also makes a cameo appearance near the beginning, the "Saw is family" quote is featured on Leatherfaces' new saw and a pit of decomposed bodies is unearthed early on which is reminiscent of the first film.
Mild spoiler. There is a well done suspenseful scene at night where Michelle and Ryan (the couple delivering the car) are forced to stop due to a problem with their tyre. As Ryan frantically tries to change the wheel we see Leatherface approaching. Michelle is aware someone is coming but can't see from which direction and pans her flashlight around trying to spot the danger which slows Ryan down who then has to work in the dark. All the while a chainsaw wielding Leatherface gets closer and closer. It is a a very well put together suspenseful scene and one of the highlights of the film.
This time around some female members of the Sawyer clan are introduced. The lack of females in the family (or at least female members who were still alive) was perhaps a complaint people had with the previous films so it is nice to see that addressed here. I particularly liked the inclusion of the little girl with her doll of bones who I thought was a creepy addition.
In the early daylight parts of the film things look pretty good with some nice cinematography. The arid desert type setting reminded me a bit of the Tremors franchise. Speaking of parts of this reminding me of other films at the very beginning where Leatherface is seen cutting out and working on a mask it reminded me of the opening to A Nightmare on Elm Street where Freddy is sharpening the blades on his glove weapon. So this one stirred up some pleasant memories of other films for me early on.
Bad Points: Although effort is made to tie it in with the previous films as stated before it does ignore and disregard the events of number two. This starts right from the opening voice monologue thing and goes on from there. I understand they wanted to bring Leatherface back who was assumed to have perished in the explosion in number two but he wasn't confirmed as dead so they could have just brought him back anyway. Alternatively they could just have said this film fell between the events of numbers one and two. They could still have included the new Sawyer members and justified it by saying Leatherface was staying with some distant family relations of those in the original. Would have been far fetched but that's nothing new for slashers and I would have preferred that than just ignoring an entire previous film.
Spoiler. Towards the end things get a bit realistic with several characters (Leatherface, Alfredo and Benny) all returning after we thought they were dead. This kind of thing is common place in slashers I know and all part of the fun but it was pushing it a bit here for it to happen with three separate characters especially in Benny's case as he appeared to be completely cut up with the chainsaw in the water. There may be different endings here though that don't include some of them coming back.
Only a small complaint but I found that some of the Sawyer clan either spoke with a very strong accent or had a tendency to mumble so I couldn't always hear what they were saying properly. It didn't help either that the DVD I was watching didn't have subtitles so I missed out on the odd bit of dialogue here and there.
I felt the second half of the film once things got to the farmhouse tailed off a little bit and wasn't as a atmospheric or tension filled as what we saw earlier when the car was still in play.
Verdict: I thought it was a real shame that this completely ignored part two as it does annoy me when franchise films screw around with the time line and don't show proper continuity. That said the ending of part two didn't leave a lot of wriggle room from a writing standpoint so I can understand why they ignored it and to be fair what we do have here for me was more entertaining than what went on in number two. For me personally I always find it a bit of a turn off when there are more than two killers as I feel it's kind of a "too many cooks spoiling the broth" type thing so for this reason this franchise never appeals to me all that strongly though I do enjoy the more recent outings a lot more. Though nothing special this film had it's moments though and for me felt like an upgrade and a step up from number two. In particular I liked the first half but it struggled to hold my interest as much as it went on.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1) Gina: Hit in the head with a sledgehammer.
2) Sara: Killed with chainsaw.
3) Ryan: Killed by blow to the head from a mechanical booby trap device set in motion by the little girl.
4) The Sawyer mother: Shot by Benny.
5) Tinker: Injured by gun shots from Benny and we assume dies later off screen due to the wounds.
6) Tex: Set on fire by Benny.
7) Alfredo: Shot with a shotgun by Michelle.